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One Step at a Time: Japanese Women Walking

Abstract: A large number of Japanese women of all ages walk with their feet pointing to the inside, uchimata. They also seem to favor very showy shoe fashions, which attract attention to their feet and to the way they walk. Taking the position of women’s feet towards uchi – home–as a starting point, this discussion analyzes current developments in the situation of women in Japan, ranging from the status of workers to the legal treatment of women by the family court. Although the situation for Japanese women is far from equitable, current statistics show that they have obtained significant advances in all professional fields, and are reaching higher academic, intellectual, and political positions in the country.
Few activities can be more mundane than walking. All normal persons learn how to do it within their first fifteen months, and, barring some accident or disease, continue walking all their lives. However, after I came to live in Japan almost three years ago, I started noticing that walking is not that simple an activity. It is more than just putting one foot in front of the other and propelling the body forward.

Upon my arrival in Japan, the first thing that struck me was the extremely high platform shoes the majority of young women in the country were wearing. I had not seen such contraptions anywhere else in the world in such profusion and different little twists; some were the plain platform, others had sequins glued all over the top, and still others had carved hearts, or birds, embellishing the space provided by the elevated soles. Clearly, these shoes were meant to be attention-getters. Of course, there have been other outbreaks of platform shoes in the world, in different times. In my twenties, for instance, back in my native Brazil, I too wore some kind of platform shoes; in Paris, some five years ago, I saw several young women sporting platform boots, but, comparing to those I first beheld in Japan, my Brazilian platforms and the Parisian ones were mere ballet slippers. What became more interesting, besides their being a fashion statement, is that these shoes seem to function as a kind of identity card as well.

Eventually, this initial interest helped shape my own way of living in Japan. It is surprising to me now, looking back, to realize how many conversations I have had about feet, shoes and ways of walking. These conversations provoked further explorations of the scholarship about the history of women in Japan. In a sense, I can say that these past three years I’ve fully embodied the figure of a “Westerner Looking at Japanese Women’s Feet.”

I

When the plane landed and all passengers joined the line for customs, I saw one of the young women in the same flight from the US go into a bathroom at the airport wearing tennis shoes and come out wearing platform shoes, as if, now back in her country, together with her red Nihon passport, she needed them to prove she is Japanese. Outside the customs area of the airport, many of the young women waiting for friends and relatives were wearing the same kind of shoes. As first impressions usually last, I continued checking the shoes, which were everywhere except, strangely enough, in the women’s university where I teach. I asked some colleagues if there is a prohibition against such shoes in the school dressing code. None that they knew of. Indeed, besides the ubiquitous “recruit suit” – an outfit consisting of black skirt, little black blazer and white shirt – students at my university tend to dress in a very Japanese style of simple elegance, and their shoes, at least on my first year, were not pronouncedly platformed.

But by the time I realized that there was no use trying to see the platform shoes in my students’ feet, I had started noticing their way of walking, with the front of their feet pointing to the inside. A helpful colleague explained that this way of walking is called uchimata. “Doesn’t uchi mean ‘home?'” I asked, and she confirmed. What is the opposite of uchimata, I wanted to know, and she obliged: it is sotomata. The word soto means “outside,” “not in the home.” So, to make this visually clear: a ballet dancer usually points her toes to the outside, while a woman who walks uchimata, points her toes as much to the inside as possible. And, if you have the time to observe (and I do), it is interesting to see how so many Japanese women – young, middle aged and old – manage to walk uchimata very gracefully, with one foot making a curve to avoid the ankle of the other on their way to the front of the body. Not all Japanese women walk that way, of course, but enough of them, around eighty per cent – according to my very informal survey done in Osaka, Kobe, Nishinomiya, Kyoto, Tokyo, Matsuyama, and Kokura – do it.

Intrigued, I subsequently asked my female Japanese colleagues in the teachers’ lounge for an explanation. First, some of them denied my observations. One even stood up and walked around to prove that she didn’t walk in such a way. She did, though, and had never noticed before. Another one, a former volleyball player for the Japanese national team at the Olympic games in the 70’s, said that when you turn your feet inside “like that” you have more balance. Now in her fifties, she has not played volleyball for twenty years, but still walks “like that.” A third colleague took a more defensive approach, insisting that it is not the Japanese women who walk different, but it is the western women who do so. At that point I was reminded that being a woman does not make me automatically “one of them.” After some explaining, my colleague understood that what I was trying to do was not to assign a “good” or “bad,” label to the way Japanese women walk, but just trying to understand what causes so many of them to walk in ways that are not very common in other parts of the world.

My “research” developed with a different group. Some time after I arrived in Japan, I was sought by a group of women who wanted to “take lessons” with me. Even since then, once a week, three adult women – all housewives – come to my house to practice English for two hours. These sessions are filled with much amusement, goodwill, and the goodies we make to share in the name of international understanding – as good an excuse as any for eating. One day early on, I started our weekly discussion by showing them a replica of a pair of shoes foot-bound Chinese women used to wear. I had bought the objects in singapore, in a shop whose owner was not shy to give me her opinion about the “atrocious” cultural practice that produced the need for such shoes. Here in Japan, precisely because women have never had bound feet, but walk in such a peculiar way, I wanted to see what my friends thought about the Chinese shoes.

At first, they didn’t recognize their purpose, because the shoes are covered with embroidered antique Chinese fabric. One ventured they were a pair of vases. The other thought they might be containers for sewing notions. The third one said, “I don’t know what they are really, but they seem to be shoes for pigs’ feet.” When I revealed to them what the objects were supposed to represent, they exclaimed, “tensoku!” That is the Chinese word the Japanese associate with what Westerners know as “lily feet women.” However, even though my three Japanese friends, all college-educated women, had once read about the habit of foot-binding in China, none of them had ever given it much thought, so it was the size of the shoes more than anything that surprised them. They couldn’t believe that an adult woman’s feet could have been deformed to such extent that they would fit in such containers.

The three of them opined that the women who wore these shoes could not walk fast. They joked none of them could have been able to run away from their husbands. After we gave a collective sigh of relief that these shoes are no longer necessary in China because the custom of foot-binding is out of favor, I asked them about the history of shoes in Japan. The oldest of my students, Kazuko, expertly drew a pair of straw slippers and then a pair of getta – the traditional wooden Japanese clogs. She explained how they are made, and in which occasions you can still see people wearing them. Next, she drew the Japanese slippers that a woman wears with a kimono; these require the special socks with the separation for the big toe. The three women remembered the ceremonial occasions in their lives when they wore such slippers – the third, the fifth, and the seventh birthday, then for college graduation, and, if they had a Shinto ceremony, they also wore one for their wedding.

Much talk issued of this part of the conversation, because the three of them wanted to share their experiences with the uncomfortable slipper, as well as with the difficulty of correctly wearing a kimono. (In Japan, because the correct order of the many layers is so complicated and exacting, helping a woman put on a kimono for special occasions has become the realm of professionals. The best beauty salons always have a specialist in such art, and just the dressing up can cost about $200.) Finally, Kazuko drew a geisha’s shoes. suddenly, there they were, the proto-platform shoes, whose descendants could be seen everywhere in Japan. None of these women had thought about the connection between the traditional shoe worn by that a female figure associated with Japan, and the sheer gusto with which the young Japanese women had taken the platform shoes.

Had my friends ever worn such shoes? None had. Then I asked them how they walked. Each was happy to demonstrate for me. The three of them had the same walk, uchimata. When I asked them to think why they did it, this time Hiroko, the second oldest, said that they learned that when you wear a kimono you have to keep your knees close together, otherwise the folds open. So what if they open? “Well,” she explained, “it’s ugly.” “No,” Kazuko corrected her, “It’s considered immodest. A proper woman doesn’t show her legs when she is wearing a kimono. She walks correctly to always keep her kimono folds in place. She never runs. “Besides,” she paused and smiled broadly, “when you wear a kimono you don’t put on underwear. You must walk correctly, with small steps.”

Yoshie – the youngest one of the three, and the one who always speaks last – remembered that during the short period she took Japanese dance lessons, nihonbuyo, the teacher enforced the position of the feet. Could a few dance lessons influence the way you walk all your life? She was not sure. Later, Yoshie also suggested that the position of the feet may be caused by the way of sitting on the tatami mats for the tea ceremony. How many of them perform tea ceremony on a regular basis? I asked. None does at the present time.

Did they ever? Yes, as a matter of fact, the three of them took lessons when they were high-school girls. How long did the lessons last? “Not very long,” Kazuko said. “I couldn’t stand it. My legs hurt. Besides, I saw no point in the whole thing. It’s too much fuss for a cup of tea. I don’t have time for it.” Once again, their smiles showed that the three of them agreed on the experience of the tea ceremony. I asked them if their daughters are taking tea ceremony lessons. Not one is. Why? They unanimously replied that their girls don’t like tea ceremony. But, as the three of them were quick to point out, all their children take shodo – traditional Japanese writing – lessons, during which they have to sit on the floor and work on low tables. Shodo teachers are mostly older women working out of their houses, usually teaching a few children in the neighborhood.

II

In 36 Views of Mount Fuji, Cathy N. Davidson writes about the time she spent teaching in Japan, first during 1980, then again for a short period in 1983, for a whole year in 1987-88, and finally in 1990. In her first year, Davidson was interviewed by a newspaper on her opinion about “the typical Japanese woman.” When she asked the reporter whether such a thing as a typical Japanese woman exists, she ended up portrayed as a feministo, a characterization that attracted many of her female students, all eager to tell her about their ambitions and dreams for their future. Prominent among these dreams was the one of becoming a housewife and a mother.

Indeed, in the years between the time Davidson taught here and the time I arrived in Japan, the dream continues being a consistent one. Even one of the brightest graduate students I know says that she wants to become a wife and a mother (as in the venerable Japanese formula of the “good wife, wise mother”). Does she have a boyfriend? No. But she is confident she will get married, although, as she explained to me amid much laughing, she is fast approaching the “Christmas cake” phase of her life. In Japan, Christmas–or kurisumasu, as it is pronounced in Katakana English – is not Christmas without a specially decorated cake. The prices of this cake are very high until the 24th of December. From the 25th on, you can buy it cheaply because, actually, nobody wants it.1

At first, it appalled me that a bright graduate student would take such matters so lightly. Isn’t she offended by the evident sexism of the expression? She isn’t. It doesn’t matter, she explains. Many women do get married after they are 25. And then what? I asked. Well, some continue working for a while, until they have a baby, then they stay home and take care of the baby. Then what? I thought. what happens to all the years these young women spent in college, getting an education, preparing to be in the workforce?2 What will they do with the professional skills they acquired in college? Or are they to be forever spent in the uchi? Does that have anything to do with the fact that, even though the number of female college students (two and four-year colleges) increases yearly, in the year of 1997 96.5 percent of the students in home economics were female, compared to only 9.0 in engineering (“Situation of Japanese Women”).

For many college-educated western women – perhaps most – the thought that a woman’s most cherished dream is to have a home where she will be “wife and mother” sounds out of fashion, if not downright wrong. But what are the real options for Japanese women? Recent statistics show that during the nation’s astonishing economic growth before 1990, Japanese women were accepted in the work force in large numbers, now that the economic bubble has burst the companies are dismissing women in large numbers.3 The truth is that there simply are very few “regular” jobs for women nowadays, after the bubble economy burst. It is also the case that many women – including my three friends Kazuko, Hiroko and Yoshie – work out of their homes. Those in the middle class, who have either gone to college or mastered a marketable ability, can get money teaching the traditional Japanese arts, or piano, or Math, or even English. Others, even though not working from home, comprise 22 percent of the female labor force employed as part-time workers.4 And yet, all of them define themselves exclusively as housewives and mothers. Such choice is not surprising, since even for most women who do work outside the home, the employment is less than glamorous: most work part-time in low-paying entrance-level clerical jobs where, as Elisabeth Bumiller writes, “almost all are required to serve tea, the great symbol of a woman’s servility in Japan” (74).5

An American friend, with impeccable feminist credentials, with whom I discussed some thoughts contained in this essay, could not hide her irritation at my idea of looking at women’s feet and trying to find meaning in the way the Japanese walk. She more than once insisted that what I should be looking at were the Real Conditions of Employment for Japanese women. Granted. With all the changes, which took place in Japan especially after the war, women in Japan should be seen as the workers that they are. It is also important to keep in mind that traditionally in Japan, “a woman fills her rice bowl last, after serving everyone else. She’s the last in the bath and last to bed and usually first up in the morning” (Condon, 16). In other words, the position of woman in the social script of Japan in the home: she is a – or the – servant of her family, first and foremost. How else can one understand university students’ statements that they want to be a “wife and mother”?

But what about those who cannot become wives and mothers? One thing is to consider the position of the married woman, and quite another the position of the woman who, for one reason or another, cannot count on a man’s income. Let’s initially imagine a married woman whose husband works as a salaryman. Marriage in Japan is more likely to last a lifetime than in most other countries – 1.5 divorces per 1,000 marriages (Condon, 45) – so the chances are very good that a married woman will have a husband all her life, and then keep his pension when he dies. If the husband himself manages to keep his job all his life (a feat not difficult at all until very recently in the Japanese corporate culture in which life-long employment was a norm), the wife herself is also “employed” for life. As Jane Condon writes,

It is commonly said that a woman’s power comes from holding the purse strings and doling out her husband’s allowance, not to mention doing research and making decisions about major household purchases like the refrigerator or the family car. The home is the women’s castle – so much so that she is sometimes jokingly referred to as “the inn-keeper,” while her husband is known as “the boarder.” (16)
However, if that is true for the married woman who has a purse filled by the husband’s income (assuming that the husband actually does give the wife all his income for her to administer), such is not the same either for the divorced or for the single woman. The divorced woman until very recently lost not only any claim to financial help in the form of alimony, but also her children, who were taken to the husband’s family.6 For those women who manage to keep their children, Jane Condon writes, “child support is minimal, and 78 percent of men to not keep up the payments anyway” (49).7 In addition, women who divorce their husbands feel that they might be destroying their career, and that “through divorce you have dirtied the family name” (Condon, 46). In other words, if the pull to marry is strong, the pull to remain married is even stronger. A Japanese Family Court lawyer Jane Condon interviewed for her book states that “more than fifty percent of married women are unhappy, but they tell themselves, ‘Be patient. Be patient'” (59). And yet, “now 74 percent of all Family Court petitions for divorce are initiated by women” (Condon, 45).

And what is the fate of a single woman who has no man’s income to administer, or inheritance to enjoy? She has to find a job, and make sure she can support herself, of course. That is not an easy feat, however, if one remembers that before the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was approved in 1986, only 33 percent of large companies would accept application from female graduates from four-year colleges. After 1986, even though there is no real enforcement of the law, some companies do hire women for more than the detested tea-serving duties. A government report issued late spring 2001 says that more than 63 percent of women earned less than 3 million yen ($37,185) a year, compared with 15.6 percent of employed men. Nearly a quarter of men earned more than 7 million yen a year, but only 3 percent of women had salaries that high (see The Japan Times, April 28, 2001). So, even though steps have been taken – not the least of which being the appointment of a record number of five women for the cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi–and there seems to be a slight improvement in women’s working conditions in Japan, the situation is far from equitable yet. To add details to the possible answer to the question posed to Cathy Davidson by a journalist in 1980, one can say that, in spite of all the advances obtained in the workplace, the typical independent single Japanese woman will be poorer, have less job security and less opportunity for career advances than her male counterpart. It is no wonder that the recent annual government report ranked Japan 41st among 70 countries in gender equality in the workplace.

III

In my past three years in Japan, I particularly remember one time when, after observing the way a student ahead of me was walking, I too, started walking uchimata. No, I was not going native. No, I was not mocking my student. I think I was not even imitating her, necessarily. As a woman, living in Japan, concerned with issues involving Japanese women, in that fleeting moment did I have a kind of desire to literally “walk in their shoes,” so that I could understand them better? If that was so, it was a silly attempt. But, at that point, an inevitable one, it was as if, realizing that it was not enough to continue trying to understand, I wanted to be one of them, even though I knew that it a desire impossible to realize. What does it mean to be a woman in Japan? If meaning is, as D. Brisset and C. Edgley write, “a continually problematic accomplishment of human interaction… fraught with change, novelty and ambiguity” (2), then part of the meaning of being a woman in Japan is walking uchimata – or rejecting uchimata. As a woman in Japan, I felt the experience of uchimata was a necessary one, at that moment at least.8

Once again I am reminded of Davidson’s book. At a certain point, she writes that sometimes she looks at middle-aged women in Japan and she is filled with awe: “Often they look middle-aged – not engaged in the frantic and self-defeating American quest to look forever young – and often they look happy” (59). In fact, as Davidson goes on to consider, for many Japanese women, middle-age is the time when they become adventurous. Many of them – and this is as true now as it was in the affluent 1980’s– start taking dancing and music lessons. Others run for government, or take part in movements for world peace, or for school reform. Indeed, activism in Japan has long been one of the means of expressions for women, who several times – especially in the twentieth century – have taken to the street to demonstrate against the high price of rice, and to demand that politicians take measures.9

Can one assume that the mostly domestic position of Japanese women in their society influences the way they walk? Maybe, since the political unconscious is precisely that, unconscious, when Japanese women walk with their feet pointing to the inside – to uchi – they are marking with their bodies the space of the traditional Japan –the time when the men went out and the women stayed in. Of course, there is no proof that such time ever existed. Most likely, someone can object, what I am trying to do here is orientalize the Japanese, and find in the feet of the women, in the way they walk, a kind of last bastion of old Japan, a sign of the exotic.10 And yet, it is possible to suspect that, since the traditional Japan – whether it ever existed, or has just been imagined–is becoming more and more distant from the actual conditions of daily life of the majority of the people, the position of women’s feet may also be marking a renewed choice for pleasures located before, beneath, or beyond the regulations of the cutthroat corporate world occupied by men.

However, it is also possible to say that the permanence of uchimata in a society where the practical reasons for walking in this way – kimonos, tea ceremony, long hours sitting on a tatami mat – have been largely abandoned, might signal not a nostalgia for the past, but rather a remorse for its loss. In “walking in the City,” Michel de Certeau writes that “people are put in motion by the remaining relics of meaning, and sometimes by their waste products, the inverted remainders of great ambitions” (159). In the case of Japan, perhaps uchimata is one such relic, or a reminder of a time when the family was not just the realm of women, but a place where all members congregated, turning to uchi, as the real source of consolation and protection. If such a country, or such a time, really existed, is beyond the point. Now that the country has become so similar to the West – at least on the surface – every marker of difference is important, crucial, indispensable. The uchimata walk becomes the ultimate site of a strategic ambivalence: with their upper body, women show that they pursue careers, slowly but surely advancing in the corporate world, affirming daily that they have arrived at the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, with their feet they point to something which either existed or which they imagine existed in the past: a time for home, for feminine elegance, for joys all but forgotten in the new life they now embrace.

But social life does not abide in reflections about what is meaning. Rather, it goes on pretty much on the surface, most of the time. The year of 2000, for instance, with the cherry blossoms and the first breezes of spring, another shoe fashion hit the Japanese streets, sidewalks, and corridors. Although you could see a stray platform here and there, the fashion now consisted of incredibly delicate sandals with stiletto, or square, or rounded heels. The ideal, observable in a quick look at the young women parading at the Osaka Umeda station, or in a perusal of fashionable store windows around Omotesando in Tokyo, was to have a total combination – preferably in pink – of tiny little scarf tied around the neck, set of two light pink blouses, a shocking pink skirt, and glittery pink sandals. To my surprise, in my second spring in Japan, even my usually discreetly dressed and shod university students were sporting the whole ensemble. For me, once again, it was a delight to see how the young women walked, firmly ahead, holding their bags and talking on their cell-phones, while their feet did the usual dance.

What was also new was the noise, so many decibels higher that it was impossible not to notice, especially in the corridors of the university. The dainty little sandals, in delicate colors, looking as fragile as a cherry blossom, are more than attention-getters. With them, at every step, a young Japanese woman is sure that she is heard. As part of the material culture, both their feet and their way of walking become a semantically charged space in which Japanese women actively express meaning.11

But what does it all mean? Although opinions in the teachers’ lounge at my university vary, it is my firm conviction that Japanese women, who might look fragile, dainty and even traditional to the eyes of a Western woman, actually know what they want, and know how to get it, if only a step at a time, a percent at a time. This new generation of Japanese women, who might seem too fashion-oriented to the eyes of the older generation and even to foreigners, is no less strong than their predecessors: they can make their foremothers proud. If the need arises – as it did in the past – these women will do the job, will mend and cure, will teach and console, will do what must be done. They will do it uchimata, or sotomata, all the way.

Notes

1 The Japanese expression is tekireiki, which means the appropriate age for marriage (twenty-five and under for women, twenty-five and older for men). If the “deadline” is approaching and no Prince Charming or Princess Charming is likely to materialize, many Japanese (estimates vary between 35% to 60%) still use the omiai system. Even though it is not what is commonly understood as the traditional arranged marriage, through omiai the marriageable are introduced to available candidates pre-selected by the nakodo (matchmaker), who is usually an older person in the family, or the employer. Of course, the young man or woman can still not accept the candidate, but many times, fearing to displease the go-between, the person feels he/she cannot reject the candidate.

2 In a much-publicized recent study based on standards set by the United Nations, Japan ranked 41st among 70 countries in gender equality in the workplace.

3 Patrick Smith writes that by the 1990s “3 percent of lawyers were women, and 3 percent of chemical engineers; one civil engineer in two hundred was a woman,” and at the time the crown prince Married Owada-san (now princess Masako), “women held slightly less than 3 percent of managerial slots.” These proportions, he stresses, “represented considerable improvements” (153).

4 A great majority of these perform their part-time duties when their children are at school. The category of “part time job” means a work in which the employee works no more than 35 hours a week, but usually these women end up working a full time number of hours. It also means that the employer pays no benefits, and the employee has no security whatsoever, no paid vacations, no housing loans, and no family allowances. (See Condon. 202-3.)

5 See Bumiller’s sobering statistics about Japanese women’s situation in the job market, especially pages 73-5.

6 In her 1985 book, Jane Condon writes that the divorce agreement “includes only one lump-sum settlement payment which averages 1 to 5 million yen . . . There is usually no alimony in Japan, although the settlement is occasionally paid out monthly, but not indefinitely, only until a fixed sum is reached” (49). A revised edition of the Condon book – the one I work with for this discussion – appeared in 1991, but it makes no reference to changes in the law dealing with divorce agreements.

7 Jane Condon maintains that there is “no system of attaching wages” to child support, and that “single mothers tend to count on the monthly child support from the government –32,700 yen per child” (50). However, in the intervening decade, things have changed. See Condon 55-6 for a detailed explanation on how the court decides who gets the child after the divorce.

8 For an excellent discussion on the deployment of gender roles in Japan, see Jennifer Robertson’s book on the Takarazuka Revue, especially the chapter “Staging Androgyny.”

9 See John N. Dower on the crucial role of women in the years following the defeat of Japan in WWII (241-2). From episodes of female students’ denunciation of corrupt male school authorities, to the demonstrations by the “Housewives Association” of Osaka demanding rice, to the september of 1945 women’s petition to the government to grant woman suffrage, countless examples show that women took to the streets and demanded that their voices be heard. Of course, one cannot forget that Japan was ruled by empresses more than once during its long history, the last time in the eighteenth century (see Condon, 2).

10 Edward Said, the scholar most readily associated with discussions about orientalism, defines it as “A distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociopolitical, historical and philological texts; it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction… but also of a whole series of “interests”.. it not only creates but also maintains; it is, rather than expresses, a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel) world” (12). After such overall inclusions, what forgiveness? I confess myself guilty of several things: I am interested in the life of Japanese women. I am interested in their interests, in what makes them distinctive and what makes them similar to other women in the world. I enjoy their friendship and their way of dealing with social and intellectual situations. I appreciate their aesthetic sense and their sense of fashion. I admire the history of womankind in Japan, as well as their literary achievements, at the same time I ascertain their difference from me and my own cultural history.

11 See Brian McVeigh’s discussion on material culture, especially on how objects are produced and imbued with sociocultural meaning (10-15).

Works Cited

Brissett, D. and Edgley, C. (eds). Life as Theater. A Dramaturgical Source Book. 2nd ed. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1990.

Bumiller, Elisabeth. The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese woman and Her Family. New York: Random House, 1995.

Condon, Jane. A Half Step Behind. Japanese women Today. (1985) Rutland and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1991.

de Certeau, Michel. “Walking in the City.” The Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Simon During. Routledge: London and NY, 1993: 151-160.

Davidson, Cathy N. 36 Views of Mount Fuji. On Finding Myself in Japan. New York: Penguin, 1993.

Dower , John W. Embracing Defeat. Japan in the Wake of World War II. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.

The Japan Times. “Women Have Far to go In Japanese Work Force” April 21, 2001.

McVeigh, Brian J. Wearing Ideology. State, Schooling and Self-Presentation in Japan. Oxford: Berg, 2000.

Robertson, Jennifer. Takarazuka. Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York; Pantheon, 1978.

“Situation of Japanese Women.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/women_rep4/part1

Author: Eva Paulino Bueno was born in Brazil, has a Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh, and now teaches in Japan. She has published Resisting Boundaries (1995), Imagination Beyond Nation (1999), Mazzaropi, o artista do povo (1999), and Naming the Father (2000). She is currently working on an anthology of poetry in English about Japan, and on a book of Brazilian cultural studies.

Published inIssue 3.1Issues
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